Zulum shares N221.7m, food items, others to 67,454 households in Ngala

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum has supervised the distribution of N221,760,000 in cash, food items and wrappers to over 67,454 vulnerable residents of Ngala Local Government Area.

Zulum was in Ngala last weekend where he spent two nights coordinating humanitarian and developmental activities in the local government area.

The distribution took place at five centres in Gamboru, Wulgo and Ngala, the major communities housing thousands of internally displaced persons from two local government areas that fled due to activities of Boko Haram insurgents.

The exercise started on Sunday with 44,352 women beneficiaries each receiving N5,000 in cash and a wrapper, while 23,102 male heads of households each got one bag of rice and one bag of maize grain on Monday.

A statement on Monday by the spokesman of the governor, Mallam Isa Gusau, quoted his boss as saying: “Yesterday (Sunday), we distributed non-food items to about 44,352 women in Ngala Local Government Area. Each of them received N5,000 and a wrapper. This morning (Monday), we are distributing food items to 23,103 male heads of households. Each of them will receive one bag of rice and one bag of maize to cushion their hardship.”

The governor expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for supporting Borno State Government with donation of about 10,000 bags of rice through the Nigerian Customs Service.

The governor was accompanied by the senator representing Borno Central, Barrister Kaka Shehu Lawan, a member House of Representatives, Engr Bukar Talba and a member of the House of Assembly representing Ngala constituency, Hon Bukar Abatcha.

Others on the governor’s entourage include commissioners, special advisers and special advisers designated, heads of agencies in charge of humanitarian activities and some top officials of the government.
Press Release
Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) notes with deep regret the controversy on the mismanagement of funds, abuse of financial due process and clear and manifest intention to defraud the treasury by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu. There was a request from the Honourable Minister to the Accountant General for the transfer of the sum of N585.2million from the National Social Investment Office account to the United Bank for Africa account of Bridget Oniyelu, being a private account. A number of fundamental issues have arisen from this scenario.
▪ The first is that in accordance with Federal Government’s Financial Regulation (Regulations) 713, it is clearly stated that: Personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention. Therefore, the Regulation establishes a strict liability offence which cannot be explained away under any circumstances.
▪ The second is that the Honourable Minister’s defence that this practice is legal indicates that this may not have been the first-time public money is being transferred into private accounts on the instruction of the Minister. Thus, investigations are imperative to establish the full extent of the rot under the direction of the Honourable Minister.
▪ The third is that the way and manner the memo for the release of this money was generated and dispatched to the Accountant General shows that the Hon Minister has usurped the functions of the Accounting Officer being the Permanent Secretary (See Regulations 111 and 112) and other relevant accounting and finance staff of the Ministry (Regulations 114 for Head of Finance and Accounts). It is not the duty of the Honourable Minister to be generating memos for payment of beneficiaries.

▪ The fourth is that the generation of the memo and the direct request for the Accountant General to pay public money to a private account indicates one or two things. It is either the Honourable Minister is ignorant of the procedure for release, disbursement of funds and payment of beneficiaries or she deliberately decided to violate the Regulations.
The Regulations (3127, 3128 and 3129) further require that public money should be transferred through e-payment to the direct beneficiaries unless the Ministry, Department or Agency has an exemption from the e-payment policy. Only a qualified person, duly entitled under the law or a contract is qualified to be a beneficiary of public funds and not a meddlesome third party (Financial Regulation 601 inter alia states: Vouchers be made out in favour of the person or persons to whom the money is actually due. Financial Regulation 603 states inter alia (i) All vouchers shall contain full particulars of each service, such as dates, numbers, quantities, distances and rates, so as to enable them to be checked without reference to any other documents and will invariably be supported by relevant documents such as local purchase orders, invoices. special letters of authority, time sheets, etc.
CSJ recalls that Halima Shehu, Chief Executive Officer and National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) has been suspended following allegations of high-level abuse of public resources. We further recall that the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, is being questioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in an ongoing probe into the N37.170billion allegedly laundered during her tenure in office, through a contractor, James Okwete. We also recall the false claim by Buhari’s Minister, of feeding Nigerian children who were all at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another memo circulating from the same Ministry shows approvals for airfare and airport taxi to a city without an airport.
From the foregoing, it is manifestly clear that the Regulations and internal controls for accountability and transparency in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs are not followed as they are obeyed more in the breach. There have been clear violations of laid down rules and procedures. The funds available to the Ministry and its agencies have been treated like a slush fund. Against the background of the foregoing, CSJ demands the following.
▪ The immediate resignation of Minister Betta Edu from office and where she fails to resign, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should suspend her from office pending the conclusion of investigations. Treat like cases alike; what is applicable to Halima Shehu should also be applicable to Betta Edu.
▪ Reform the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the Social Investment Programme and similar programmes to ensure that the criteria for selection of beneficiaries, the

names, locations, details of beneficiaries and the sums disbursed to them are put up on a publicly available web portal. This will facilitate public monitoring and evaluation.
▪ The expeditious prosecution of all persons who have participated in the mismanagement/looting of public resources or the attempt to do so under the Ministry.
Eze Onyekpere Esq.
Lead Director
China’s Role in Resolving Gaza Conflict: A Call for Decisive Action
By Mohammad Reza Noroozpour

The situation in Gaza is getting worse daily and the human condition is getting more pathetic every minute, and the involvement of different countries, including China, can have significant implications.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly the situation in Gaza, has been a longstanding and contentious issue in international relations. The conflict involves political, territorial, and humanitarian dimensions, and it has drawn attention from various countries and international organizations.
Recently, I had the opportunity to translate Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speeches in Persian Language. It is evident that China, a major global actor, holds an interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is advocating for a peaceful resolution that respects the Palestinians’ right to establish a state of their own. President Xi has regularly highlighted the importance of humanity, justice, equality, fairness and the right of all nations to live in peace in his speeches.
In recent years, China has increasingly sought to play a more active role in global affairs, including in the Middle East. While China has historically maintained a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, it has also expressed concern for humanitarian issues and the rights of the Palestinian people.
All these human values and principles that Mr. Xi Jinping has been emphasizing on all these years are now related to the situation in Gaza Strip. Given President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on human rights and equality, some analysts and observers have suggested that China could take a firmer stance on the developments in Gaza. This could involve advocating for greater humanitarian assistance, supporting diplomatic efforts to address the conflict, and reaffirming the rights of Palestinians.
China’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is influenced by various factors, including its diplomatic and economic relations with Israel, its growing economic ties with the Middle East, especially Arab states, and its broader foreign policy objectives. As such, any China’s firmer stance on Gaza would be considered very effective on the context of these factors.
Xi Jinping personally has made several comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the rights of the Palestinian people. His comments have emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution, and serious attention to the inalienable rights of Palestinians. Here are three important comments made by Xi Jinping related to Palestinian rights and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

  1. In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, Xi Jinping expressed China’s support for the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state. He emphasized the need for a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  2. During a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2017, Xi Jinping reaffirmed China’s support for the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights and interests. He stressed the importance of achieving a political solution to the conflict and reiterated China’s commitment to promoting peace in the Middle East.
  3. In a message to the Arab League in 2018, Xi Jinping reiterated China’s support for the Palestinian cause and emphasized the need for a political settlement based on relevant United Nations resolutions and the principle of “land for peace.”
    Though Xi Jinping’s comments have consistently emphasized China’s support for the Palestinian people’s rights and the need for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they have not explicitly mentioned a two-state solution. However, China has consistently called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, which aligns with the broader concept of a two-state solution.
    In light of Xi Jinping’s statements on human values and the country’s ambition to lead the world during this transitional period, and taking into account its positive stances on the right of Palestinians and having good relations with both sides of the conflict, it is imperative for this country to take more decisive actions and adopt stronger and clearer positions to put an end to the Israelis ongoing violence in Gaza, rather than allowing more innocent lives to be lost.
News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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